My ship has come in. My lottery ticket has paid off. My eagle has landed.

Through an accident of timing, I've now been interviewed for the "Daily Show."

Two possibilities loom large. One is that they will slice and dice my remarks and make me look like an utter buffoon. The other is that they won't use the interview at all.

I wonder which would be worse.

I happened to be strolling out of The Post's corner of the media tent, looking for some real news, when I stumbled upon one of the giants of fake news, Comedy Central's Rob Corddry. He asked whether his crew could tape me in front of the Post banner.

I thought it over. I could either achieve pop-culture stardom, connect with the nation's youth and impress my daughters, or utterly immolate my career. I said yes.

Corddry started off with a couple of standard questions -- what are you doing here, what's the big story at the convention -- to lull me into a false sense of security.

I said there was so little real news that the 15,000 journalists here, even people like him, were interviewing each other out of desperation.

Big mistake. "Did you just call me a journalist?"

I tried to recover. Of course he was a fake journalist. This just underscored that the barriers between real and fake were tumbling down, blah blah blah. He wasn't buying.

Corddry asked me whether Bob Woodward was, well, he used a rather unflattering term. I denied it. He asked me again with a big wink and a nod. I don't remember what I babbled.

Then he started interrogating me in some made-up language. This was his hole card, his go-to shtick. What do you say to someone who's babbling nonsense? I was beaten into submission.

That cunning Corddry.

Now . . . can I update you on the tight security at Fleet? At the gate yesterday, my water bottle and my orange juice got confiscated. But that was nothing compared to the fight that erupted with a female correspondent for Britain's ITN.

The guards snatched a tiny bottle of makeup from her purse. She went haywire. She had been bringing it in all week. "I'm running for a live shot!" she yelled.

The guards were unmoved. The makeup was . . . dangerous somehow. The woman stalked off, cursing. I didn't blame her.

At the CBS trailer, I learned that operations chief Howard Brenner had tried to bring in about 100 goodie bags provided by the DNC. Bad move. Schick, a Boston company, had put a free razor in each one. Brenner and four interns had to take them out, one by one.

CBS correspondent Jim Axelrod said he not only had to dump his cup of coffee -- "it couldn't have been poison, I was sipping it" -- but an umbrella he had just bought at a gift shop. Seems that Fleet security has adopted a no-umbrella policy. Now there's a new umbrella memo -- only compact ones are okay.

When I left the trailer, I had to go through the metal detector again. The guards made me dump my second bottle of water for the day.

D'oh!

Slipped into Radio Row at the FleetCenter, where Al Franken of Air America was interviewing Beltway pundit Norm Orstein. He was soon ushered out of the chair in favor of Madeleine Albright.

"I got bumped," he told her during a hug.

"Sorry," she said.

Did the former secretary of state feel any pressure to meet the Franken standard of humor?

"When I'm on with funny people, they actually make you funny," Albright said, fondly recalling a "Daily Show" appearance. (Sure, but she didn't have to deal with Rob Corddry.)

Franken asked about "right-wing radio" pushing the notion that Bill Clinton had blown an opportunity to capture Osama bin Laden. Albright said the 9/11 commission had knocked this down but that she kept getting asked about it in radio interviews.

"It was so evident this was all a central plan," she said.

"Talking-point questions," Franken said.

"Isn't it quite stunning?" Albright said.

I looked up and saw that two television cameramen were filming the scene, along with a man with a hand-held camcorder from Radio Iran.

Who says there's no news here? You just have to look for it.

American Prospect's Michael Tomasky | http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=8227 has a new twist on the media, Bill and Hillary:

"The pundits must be an unhappy group this Tuesday morning, because they can't say today all the things they love to say most: that the Clintons are arrogant and selfish, that they're emblematic of an entire generation's flaws, that the pundits really want John Kerry to lose.

"It would be pretty difficult to make any such assertions on the basis of both Clintons' performances Monday night. . . .

"The media have always been desperate to find ways to accuse the Clintons of hurting Kerry (remember how Bill's book was supposed to damage him?). They'll walk that beat forever. But after Monday night, no serious person can accuse the Clintons of secret agendas."

Of course, there are plenty of non-serious people around.

Random question: Are television replays of Teresa's "shove it" moment approaching Dean Scream levels?

Finally, I may be the only journalist here who hasn't run into Michael Moore.

"Maybe it's just a sign of how little there is actually going on at this convention," says the New Republic's Ryan Lizza | http://www.tnr.com/blog/dnc?pid=1853, "but the media here just can't seem to get enough of Michael Moore. Monday morning they swarmed the filmmaker when he showed up on the FleetCenter floor, and today they journeyed all the way out to a movie theater in Brookline to watch Moore hold court.

"I admit, I went, too. But, in my defense, I did so because the event had been billed as a Q&A with AFSCME members -- who were attending a free screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 -- and I was interested in seeing how Moore's act went over with such an important part of the Democratic base. I also made the trip out to Brookline because Moore's people had told me that after the Q&A I could have a one-on-one interview with the filmmaker.

"So imagine my chagrin when I showed up at the theater to find Moore in the midst of a full-blown press conference, talking not to AFSCME members, but to about 35 of my esteemed colleagues, including reporters and cameramen from The New York Times, Bloomberg, and Fox News, as well as Ted Koppel. Moore didn't say anything that he hasn't already said countless times before: He hopes Bush loses, he hopes his film plays a role in that, he wishes the media would do a better job, yadda yadda yadda.

"Moore did throw in one new wrinkle -- a charge he said has gotten some attention in Canada but not in the United States. Did Disney's decision not to distribute Fahrenheit 9/11, he wondered, have anything to do with the fact that the Saudi Royal Family is one of the biggest investors in EuroDisney? 'This was the first time I actually saw politics supersede greed,' he said of Disney's refusal to distribute his film which has now grossed over $100 million. . . .

"As for my promised interview, it didn't happen. Moore simply didn't have the time, his p.r. person explained. And then the filmmaker disappeared into a back room for a tete a tete with (Disney's own) Ted Koppel."

What Exactly Was the Message?

BOSTON, July 28 -- The second night of the Democrats' four-day show here seemed to this tired observer to be a themeless hodge-podge -- almost as if they were affected by the fact that ABC, CBS and NBC were taking a pass.

And I can prove it from this morning's headlines.

The Boston Globe | http://www.boston.com/news/politics/conventions/articles/2004/07/28/kennedy_leads_the_attack/ sees a sharp tone: "Convention speakers rip Bush in shift of rhetoric."

USA Today | http://www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-07-28-dems-usat_x.htm sees the temperature rising: "Democrats turn up heat on Bush."

But The Washington Post | http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17865-2004Jul27.html sees a night of restraint: "Democrats focus on healing divisions."

If the pundits can't agree, that tells you something.

My own headline would have been "Obama in 0-12," since he clearly gave the most dynamic speech of the night. Teresa Heinz Kerry was interesting but, in truth, kind of flat.

Maybe Tuesday was just destined to be the Everything Else night, the speakers who had to be given podium time but didn't make it into the Clinton/Gore first night, the Edwards Moment third night or the Kerry's Big Speech finale.

The Boston Globe lets it rip: "The second night of the Democratic National Convention featured harsher criticism of the Bush administration, with Senator Edward M. Kennedy accusing the president of making the world a more dangerous place for Americans and the son of a Republican icon countering the president's stand limiting stem cell research. Teresa Heinz Kerry told her own story even as she extolled her husband's virtues, declaring, 'By now, I hope it will come as no surprise that I have something to say.' . . .

"Meanwhile, the Democrats offered a glimpse of what they said may be the future of their party, presenting Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee in the Illinois Senate race, in their keynote speaking slot. In a prime-time address, the 42-year-old son of a white mother and black father from Kenya highlighted his journey to become the first black to serve as editor of the Harvard Law Review, and railed against 'spinmeisters' who 'like to slice and dice the country into Red states and Blue states.' . . .

"The evening was built around Kennedy. He drafted a speech aimed at allowing delegates to vent their antiadministration fervor before Kerry and his running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, present their vision for the country in their acceptance speeches."

The New York Times | http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/28/politics/campaign/28campaign.final.html?hp stitches the rhetorical quilt together:

"With a rallying cry from one of its bright young hopes, a roar from its old liberal lion and a loving endorsement from the candidate's own outspoken wife, the Democratic Party offered up John Kerry on Tuesday night as a worthy heir to the patriots of the past, ready and able to unite a nation bitterly divided by the policies and politics of the Bush administration."

USA Today is wowed by Obama:

"Democrats were electrified Tuesday by their emerging star, Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama, and roared appreciation of their reigning liberal lion, Sen. Edward Kennedy, as the convention's second night focused on energizing the party's traditional base."

The Chicago Tribune | http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/specials/elections/conventions/chi-0407280347jul28.story, naturally enough, zooms in on its home-state guy:

"Barack Obama's latest effort at rewriting the rules of political ascendancy raised an interesting question Tuesday night: Can a star be born before the election's been won?

"State legislators don't get the call to be keynote speaker at presidential nominating conventions. They get seats in the back rows of the delegation, if that. Incumbent senators and governors wait in line for years for time on the podium.

"But for Obama, a mere candidate for the U.S. Senate, there is no waiting. His time is now.

"It is now because he serves so many purposes for Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. At 42, Obama is a generational bridge. As an African-American, he is a racial bridge. But those almost miss the point. Most important, Obama is a critical bridge to the suburbs, home to the crucial votes Kerry so clearly needs in the fall."

Kerry is rolling the dice in one respect, says the Los Angeles Times | http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/2004/la-na-gamble28jul28,1,6753760.story?coll=la-home-headlines :

"With the intense assault on President Bush's national security record during the Democratic convention's first two nights, Sen. John F. Kerry's campaign is taking the risk of highlighting a debate in which his opponent now holds the upper hand in almost all polls.

"Bush campaign strategists, surprised by the fervor of the criticism, signaled Tuesday that they intend to strike back hard and fast. . . .

"One response will come today when the Republican National Committee releases in Boston an 11-minute video detailing what it calls shifts in Kerry's position on the war in Iraq."

I was just thinking about how little attention Dean was getting -- just six months ago the geniuses of the press thought he would be nominated this week -- when I clicked on this Philadelphia Inquirer | http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/9258075.htm?ERIGHTS=58050595562486009philly piece:

"No doubt about it, Howard Dean has a bad case of Teresa Envy.

"He loves the story about how Teresa Heinz Kerry told a journalist to 'shove it.' He's so juiced by Sunday's episode that he mentioned it twice yesterday, in separate pep talks to his acolytes. Eyes afire, he bellowed: 'Let's hear it for Teresa! Tell it like it is, baby!'

"These days, Howard Dean can't always tell it like it is -- not at this peace conference, anyway. When prompted, for example, to diss the Democratic establishment -- a favorite target of his during the primaries -- he's like a pit bull leashed to a fence and clamped in a muzzle.

"How quickly we forget that this was supposed to be Dean's convention. It seemed inevitable last winter, before Iowa voters decided he wasn't ready for prime time, and before his primal scream sent him into free fall. But now the failed antiwar candidate is saying that the man who beat him is fabulous ('I'm proud of John Kerry's leadership,' he said last night) and that he has no problems with Kerry's caution on Iraq."

The New York Post | http://nypost.com/news/nationalnews/25700.htm leads with the candidate's wife:

"Teresa Heinz Kerry last night delivered a somber speech like no other would-be first lady -- lecturing Americans on morality, her right to be 'opinionated' and the need to listen to the 'wise voices' of women."

The Washington Post and Ann Coulter, dissed together? Salon's Eric Boehlert | http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2004/07/27/coulter/index.html makes the connection:

"So far there have been two major media black eyes at the Democratic convention in Boston. The first was on Monday when the Washington Post handed out 10,000 copies of a special convention issue of the daily, complete with the dated banner headline 'Election 2000.'

"The second talked-about misfire was USA Today's decision to spike as unusable a column it had commissioned from radical right-wing pundit Ann Coulter. The decision to not run the lazy, mean-spirited rant actually made perfect sense, especially after Coulter reportedly refused to make any requested changes. But then Coulter ran to Fox News and insisted that the paper was trying to 'ban' her conservative voice, which meant USA Today had a headache on its hands.

"The Post blamed its snafu on a production error; the news desk had used a template from the last time a special convention issue was published and forgot to double-check the date. And what was USA Today's excuse? Why on earth did the paper, known for its moderate bent and almost old-school approach to journalism (anonymous quotes are still a no-no there), ever think it was a good idea to open up its Op-Ed pages to a fringe columnist like Coulter? She's someone who's on the record -- after 9/11 -- as saying, 'My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building,' and whom even the conservative National Review, which used to publish Coulter, has tagged as nonsensical."

Andrew Sullivan | http://www.andrewsullivan.com is intrigued by the Dems' rising star:

"I don't know enough about Barack Obama to judge whether he will be a good senator on a range of issues, but from his speech tonight, it's hard to think he anything but a stellar future. What he emphasized was another theme of this conservative convention: that the country must and can unite.

"It's a brilliant maneuver to pose as (and exemplify, in some cases) a force to overcome the divisions within the country, divisions that make all of us frayed and often testy in a time of grave danger. America is deeply thirsty for a black leader who is first and foremost an American leader; and for any leader who can reach out to both sides of the culture war. Obama struck many conservative notes: of self-reliance, of opportunity, of hard work, of an immigrant's dream, of the same standards for all of us."

National Review's David Frum | http://nationalreview.com/frum/diary072704.asp wasn't pumped by last night's proceedings:

"9:15. Could Dean not find even one nice thing to say about John Kerry? Apparently not. The overwhelming impression that a viewer gets from this convention so far: The only candidate that gets this convention excited is George Bush.

"9:50. An impressive show by Barack Obama. His speech was all cliche, 100% content-free -- but delivered with conviction, force, and the faintest sprinkle of humor. He reminds me of that saying of Napoleon's: Give me lucky generals. How many people had to drop anvils on their toes to make this guy the front-runner for Illinois' open Senate seat? But yes, I do believe we are looking at Hillary Clinton's running mate for 2008.

"I wonder though what the people who write the Democratic party's quota rules think of Obama's critique of multicultural gerrymandering and appeal to national unity?

"10:02 Ron Reagan's appearance tonight just underscores one more resemblance between Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt: They both had worthless children."

Ouch.

"10:45. Teresa has been speaking for almost 10 minutes and has not insulted anyone -- so that's an achievement. She's talked about space exploration, energy efficiency, and America's role in the world. And of course we're all fascinated to hear her views. But there's one supremely important subject on which she qualifies as a genuine expert: that is the character and personality of the man the Democrats are about to nominate as president. And on this topic, she offered nothing warm, endearing, or personal. Doesn't anyone in his party have something nice to say about this guy?"

Double ouch.

Enough with praying at the pillar of positivity, says the New Republic's Jonathan Chait | http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=express&s=chait072804 :

"The challenge for Democrats at the convention is to project an uplifting, positive message, and not to give in to the rabid impulses of their hardcore anti-Bush base. That, in any case, is the line that seems to be programmed into the brain of every reporter and pundit in Boston. Am I the only one who wants to retch when he hears this, and not just because it's been repeated so often?

"First, the notion of Bush-bashing as the sole province of lefty radicals reflects a deep misunderstanding. Opposition to Bush may have a radicalizing effect, but it's not a radical phenomenon. One of the peculiarities of Bush's presidency is that many of his most outspoken critics -- Howard Dean, Paul Krugman, Al Gore -- had well-established moderate credentials before he took office. Even the Democratic Leadership Council has taken a stance of searing opposition to Bush. Sure, radicals like Michael Moore have glommed onto the Bush-bashing movement, but fundamentally the intense opposition to Bush is a product of the president's radicalism and partisanship, not that of his critics.

"The corollary is that opposition to Bush, far from being a minority notion confined to blue state salons, is actually quite widespread. Bush's job approval rating has consistently remained below 50 percent. In fact, the proportion of Americans who want Bush out of office is substantially larger than the proportion who want Kerry to replace him. So the idea that boosting Kerry is a mainstream sentiment, and bashing Bush a minority sentiment, has it backwards."

If you're interested in how Peter Jennings, Sam Donaldson and the ABC gang are providing 24/7 digital coverage of the convention, check it my story from The Washington Post | http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19456-2004Jul27.html today.

Finally, I have this report on Kerry vs. the tabloids:

The New York Post's front page Tuesday featured a huge picture of the Democratic presidential nominee-to-be in a spacesuit, crawling out of the shuttle Discovery at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Next to the headline ("BOSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM") and a description of Kerry's "ridiculous outfit," Rupert Murdoch's paper ran a shot of Woody Allen dressed as a sperm from the movie "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask."

The same Kerry photo ran in the Boston Herald, whose front page this week has been devoted to Kerry-bashing, with the story comparing his donning of the "clean suit" to 1988 nominee Michael S. Dukakis's flub of riding around in a tank. (The Herald's banner headline, "TERESA'S TED K TIRADE," spotlighted some remarks that Kerry's wife made in a 1975 book.) The in-your-face pictures landed like a meteor, with cable networks showing them throughout the day.

Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said Kerry was required to wear the suit. "Given the challenges facing our nation today, you'd think these papers could find something better to write about," he said. Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, asked by Fox News whether NASA's release of the photo was a dirty trick, said: "Well, what do you think?" No photos were supposed to be taken, she said.

But Kennedy Space Center spokesman Mike Rein said a video was made of Kerry "as we have done for the last 40 years." He said that NASA takes such footage because of the "very confined and hazardous area" and that the pictures are always made public.

New York Post Editor in Chief Col Allan said he was just having "a bit of fun." Asked if he was trying to make Kerry look silly, Allan said: "He needs no help from us."

Trashing Teresa

Teresa Heinz Kerry's address to the Democratic convention here was not exactly a smash hit with the Fox News commentators.

"Eccentric, bordering on the bizarre. . . . Extremely self-indulgent," said Fred Barnes.

"I think she got this slot because she demanded it," said Bill Kristol.

"Stacked up against Laura Bush, she's going to be a very difficult sell," said Mort Kondracke.

The reviews weren't much better in the rest of the media. While a few pundits defended Sen. John F. Kerry's wife as refreshingly unorthodox, her moment in the FleetCenter spotlight seemed to crystallize the media portrait of her as a bit of an oddball.

"Part of the perception she's created is that she's imperious, and it's always all about Teresa," said Lisa DePaulo, who profiled Heinz Kerry for GQ magazine. "This was a great opportunity for her to say, 'This is why I love my husband.' Never happened. . . . She reinforces the stereotypes about her more than the press reinforces it."

The Tuesday night speech followed a much-replayed incident in which Heinz Kerry told a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer to "shove it" for allegedly misrepresenting her comments. Morning show anchors on ABC, CBS and CNN asked whether she regretted the outburst, and Heinz Kerry insisted she did not.

Melinda Henneberger, who has covered Heinz Kerry for Newsweek, said she "didn't do herself any favors" by snapping at the reporter and that this "undermined the whole poetry of a beautiful speech. Had she been all warm and fuzzy about her husband, we would have knocked her for that. . . . We would have called that disingenuous."

As a potential first lady with a penchant for controversy, Heinz Kerry has been a magnet for media attention, good and bad, in much the way that Hillary Rodham Clinton was in 1992. It began in earnest after a 2002 Washington Post profile in which she referred to the late senator John Heinz, who died in a 1991 plane crash, as "my husband." A Newsweek cover story in May was headlined: "Is John Kerry's Heiress Wife a Loose Cannon -- Or Crazy Like a Fox?"

Along the way she has talked about her Botox injections, her prenuptial agreement, an abortion she almost obtained and how she would "maim" a spouse who cheated on her. The 65-year-old billionaire's wealth has been extensively detailed, often with the subtext that her ketchup fortune is crucial to the campaign of her husband, who borrowed $6.4 million against their Beacon Hill townhouse during the primaries. She has also been criticized for looking bored and distracted during his speeches, and a photo of her wincing when he tried to kiss her was widely published.

In her convention speech, Heinz Kerry talked about growing up in Mozambique, the importance of the Peace Corps, space exploration, the right of opinionated women to be heard and her husband's war record and policy positions. She said a few words in four languages. But there was little attempt to humanize a senator who many see, fairly or not, as aloof.

Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie called it "the sort of rambling, disconnected spiel that multimillionaire philanthropists routinely give in their living rooms during charity events. . . . She came across as slightly odd -- the space age Madame Mao suit didn't help -- self-indulgent, and goofily disengaged from mere mortals."

National Review's David Frum wrote that Heinz Kerry offered "nothing warm, endearing or personal" about her husband.

On MSNBC's "Hardball," Chris Matthews said "I find her very attractive" but asked whether she would "play in Peoria."

"She's different and she's authentic and she's going over very well," replied author Kati Marton. "People can tell when you're unscripted, and she's unscripted and it's a breath of fresh air."

Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer called her "everything politics is not: candid, open, unique and authentic."

"You'd rather she wrap herself in an adoring cloak of sugar and sap, and smile and gaze and not say what she feels?" Baer asked.

Conservative media outlets have put a bull's eye on her back. On Tuesday, the Boston Herald bannered a story about some comments Heinz Kerry made in a 1975 book -- when she was a Republican -- such as calling Democratic politics "putrid" and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) a "perfect bastard."

The subtext to the debate is whether this strong-willed woman will wield considerable influence in a Kerry White House. "If she assumes political responsibility," CNN's Bill Schneider told viewers, "she'll have to face a difficult question: Who elected her?"

In a May interview, Heinz Kerry told ABC's Barbara Walters: "A lot of people are not used to having a dame, a lady or something, have opinions." Now, as the spotlight turns harsher, a lot of people are offering opinions about her.

"People expect her to be a little kooky," DePaulo said after the speech. "It's almost better to be kooky than self-absorbed."

Edwards Scores, Kerry On Deck

BOSTON, July 29--Tad Devine is carrying around 50 faxed pages that have convinced him things are going real well here.

The Kerry strategist and his colleague, communications director Stephanie Cutter, have just done six network "tongs." This means they visit each work space here and deliver their spin. And Devine has the front pages from 50 papers around the country. The two Kerryites, stopping by The Washington Post tent, are practically giddy over the headlines.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Hope is on the way"

New Orleans Times Picayune: "We Must Build One America"

Des Moines Register: "Edwards Promotes 'Politics of Hope'"

Rocky Mountain News: "Edwards Proclaims 'Hope' for 'One America'"

John Edwards, they concluded, has hit the message bullseye.

They just smiled when I asked whether the speech had been written with headlines in mind, or whether Kerry's speech has a phrase or slogan they hope to see on tomorrow's front pages.

Devine says Kerry's address is 99 percent done but still undergoing some last-minute tinkering. Naturally, I pumped him for details.

I've been thinking about this for the last few days. Can one speech really determined whether a man -- particular one who many people say they don't know, or who famously has problems connecting with audiences in Edwards fashion -- is elected president?

The 15,000 journalists camped out here would all say yes. I'm not so sure, but it would be silly to deny the importance of tonight's spotlight.

(Kerry is lucky that the mistrial in the Scott Peterson murder case was declared early this afternoon, as opposed to late today, when it would have upstaged the runup to his big moment.)

So, is it possible expectations are too high?

"I guess they always are, and you have to deal with the reality of that," Devine says.

"We obviously know this is the most important part of what has been a very successful convention. This is his first opportunity to speak on such a broad national stage. The first thing he has to do is show presidential capacity."

But what about the notion that he has to make people like him, that he has to present a warmer side of his personality?

Devine brushed aside the question. "He's a serious man, and politically we think that's very good for us, because this is a serious time. During the primaries, the voters intuitively understood that he had the capacity to challenge on the issue of national security.

"He has to be who he is, and who he is fits the mood of the election."

That, as they say, remains to be seen. My colleagues will have plenty of opinions around 11 p.m. tonight.

But how many people are watching this thing? Here's an intriguing tidbit. Preliminary figures for Washington -- presumably a politics-obsessed place -- show that Edwards was not a big draw. WTTG, the local Fox station, stuck with its regular 10 p.m. newscast -- and outdrew the convention coverage on the local CBS, NBC and ABC stations combined.

Tonight could be different, of course. But ratings don't lie.